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Pan-American Union (Twilight of a New Era)

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Unión Panamericana
Pan-American Union
União Panamericana
Union panaméricaine
Pan-American Union Flag

Official Flag of the Pan-American Union

Official languages Spanish, English, Portuguese and French
Headquarters Directorate General and Council Washington DC (US)
Headquarters Interamerican Court of Justice Bogotá (Colombia)
Area
Population
Establishment 1924
National Currencies US Dollar (US$) and other Pan-American members curriencies

The Pan-American Union (Unión Panamericana in Spanish, União Panamericana in Portuguese, Union Panaméricaine in French) is an Interamerican organization and international economic bloc (see also regional bloc). It promotes among its members peace, trade and scientific development in the Americas. Its membership is restrictec to the American republics and the commonwealth states of the United States. The Commonwealth of the Philippines has the status of nonvoting associated member.

Each member state is autonomous in the direction and management of its international affairs, except in matters related to Interamerican affairs where it will work and pursue its interest under the collective framework of the Pan-American Union. Major fields of cooperation are commerce, trade, communications and scientific and cultural development. The Pan-American Union is headed by a Director General, elected by the Conference, along the Council. Official languages are English, Spanish, Portuguese and French.

Main activities

Through a series of multilateral conventions and treaties it promotes trade, peace and scientific development. The uniform code of commerce and uniform customs services have become part of the Interamerican legal system. It has also created a continental standards office and a interamerican patents registry. Major public works sponsored are the Pan-American Railroad and Pan-American Highway. It sponsors and cooperates in the organizations of  the Pan-American Expositions or ExpoPanAm held every 2 or 3 years in a city of the Americas. It also sponsors the Pan-American Games, held every 4 year.

Origins of the Pan-American Union

The origins of the Pan-American Union can be explained by various interconnected factors:

  1. Of particular concern for some South American republics was the occupation of Caribbean and Central American countries and the transformation of some of them into Commonwealths associated to the US. This series of events was seeing has the worst facet of the the Roosevelt Corollary and the outset for annexation of all North America and the Caribbean.
  2. The asymmetrical relationship of trade between the US and the rest of the American countries. Along the strong and growing influence of British and German capitals and trade was having on the Western Hemisphere before World War I, that were seeing has an intervention of the almost natural economical monopoly of the US.
  3. The intervention of the US in the Mexican Revolution and the Independence of Panama
  4. The signing of the ABC Pact in 1915, that becomes the South Alliance (1920) has a means to counter-arrest the growing hegemony of US in Interamerican affairs.
  5. The experience of World War I and the re shift of political and diplomatic alliances and areas of influence.
  6. and, of no minor importance was the self imposed isolationism that numerous US Administration would more or less follow after World War I. This last point would focus the interest of the US in the Western Hemisphere.

In the Inter-American Conference of 1920 (Santiago de Chile) various delegates of South America propose to establish a legal framework for the informal status of the so called inter-American system. Documents and memorandums of the meetings and exchange of diplomatic letters reveal that it was in its time a maneuver to limited the influence of the in South and Central America. There was even a draft of resolution to dissolve the Commonwealths, granting them immediate independence. It never made it to the preliminary work nor a the Conference floor. The knowledge of this draft was of great concern in the State Department and called on the need to revise the relations with South America.

Has a result of the reevaluation the new policy for the Americas would be centered on the dollar diplomacy. That is to say, the center would be on commerce and opening of markets for American industrial goods and Central and South American natural resources. The goal would be the establishment of American commercial interest in every corner of the continent. Giving it greater access to market of US of the South American goods. It could ultimately become a closed trading zone that would economically impair the entry of countries outside the Western Hemisphere. It was expected that this future an economical zone could negotiate with the rest of the world. This would be an an enlargement of the Monroe Doctrine by means of collective partnership of the Americas, considering the presence of the British Empire in North America and the Caribbean. In this case the goal would be a policy to neutralize the possible threat of any anti-American policy against USA that could range from diplomatic hostility to a war, the former could even have the support of European nations. The basic premise was that American troubles stay in the Americas. Retrospectively it would be considered the last example of Wilsonian diplomacy. The new republican administration of Leonard Wood would take most of the credit on its implementation. Mainly on its concern to stop a possible ideological and military infiltration of communism from the Federation of Socialist Republics and keep the Commonwealths.

For Mexico and the South Alliance it came has a surprise the open letter of the new Secretary of State to negotiate on the inter-American system, free trade and all other matters of concern under no previous conditions. After months of consultations it was decide to create a special committee of envoys of the US, the South Alliance, Mexico and Colombia that would prepare the key compromises to be presented to a Pan-American conference for their approval. The negotiations started in New York, (June-July 1921). The easiest to negotiate was the Commerce and Trade Alliance. There would be an common American tariff upon a list of goods from non-American countries revised every 5 years. Free trade on industrial goods and abolition of trade quotas. Each nations can maintain its particular agricultural tariffs and subsidies The most favored nation clause on any trade agreement would apply only to the American nations. A common system to settle commercial disputes is setup. The public debt, up to certain limit would have a low interest rate. Each country maintains its national currency, but there would be a system that pegs them to the US Dollar for purposes of international and regional trade. Advocated by the South Alliance, it was incorporated a statement that promotes the import substitution industrialization has the basic blueprint for the development of the Americas. Though it called on future negotiations for its exact definition and measures of implementation. An inter-American copyright protection system would be established and supervised by a new autonomous organization. The bilateral and multilateral trade agreements would be an integral part of the Commerce Alliance. This clause would latter add room for political negotiations and compensations on the talks for the Political Pact and the Pan-American Convention. Later negotiations in the 1930s would complement the Commerce Alliance with the Banking Agreements creating the Inter-American Development Bank and the Exchange Bank of the Americas. However differences and contradictory agreements annexed to the Commerce Alliance would start the agricultural and steel tariffs wars in the 1950s and 1960s, making it necessary to be completely overhaul the Commerce Alliance in the treaties of the 1960s and the creation in the 1970s of the Interamerican Trade Organization. The access to Panama Canal and Strait of Magellan will be guaranteed for all ships of member states. On the issue of the sovereignty of the Canal, it would maintain its status quo has territory of the USA.

In Buenos Aires (November-December 1921), the basis of the Inter-American relations were agreed on the Political and Union Pact. All American Republics are equal members in a common partnership and follow among themselves the principles of peaceful relations and arbitration of differences. The American Republics undertake to solve their conflicts by pacific means and use of the mechanisms of the hemispheric diplomatic system when its necessary. Has members of a common partnership the collaboration in economic and social spheres would be welcomed and encouraged. De jure the American nations are part of the Pan-American Union. The membership would be open to future members on the condition that they have a republican form of government and have broken all political, economical, judicial and defense ties with the colonial power that controls them, the so called Canadian Clause. Integrity and independence from extra-continental interference of the Americas (colloquially refereed on the negotiations by the motto Don't Tread on Me clause), validating indirectly Argentinean claim on Falkland Island. It also served has legitimation of the South Alliance has the defense pact of South America. A stronger wording calling for the end of all territories occupied or part of a non-American nation was dropped upon concerns that it could equate to a war declaration on the British Empire or the French colonies. It was agreed the non interference on the internal affairs of American countries.

An Interamerican Court of Justice (following the model of the Central American Court of Justice) would be created to arbitrate the differences between its members. All members as signatories of the Political and Union Pact are also automatically members the Charter that creates the Interamerican Court of Justice. The Pan-American Union, as an international entity, ratifies all Red Cross Conventions and related treaties, These international treaties and others along the resolutions, conventions and treaties of the Pan-American Union are considered essential part of the Interamerican legal system. The Interamerican Court of Justice abides its resolutions on Interamerican legal system and the principles outlined in its Charter.. An invitation is sent to the Red Cross Committees of the Western Hemisphere to create a federation to implement the observance of the International humanitarian law (Geneva Conventions) and operate informally has a regional branch of the Red Cross Movement.

In Caracas (January-February 1922) and Bogota (October-November 1922) proceed the negotiations on the main treaty, the Pan-American Convention. Delayed and longer then usually programmed. Perhaps the most difficult diplomatic negotiations of the 20th century. Finalizing the sessions in Bogota, there where more businessmen, accountants and economics experts then official envoys and lawyers, negotiating the Convention. The commonwealth nations associated with the USA, were given full voting members. On the Philippines it was agreed it would not come part of the Pan-American Union but join has non voting associated member, all other Pacific Ocean territories (present and future) barred from integrating the Pan-American Union. The US compromises on approving an enabling law that would give some degree of autonomy in Interamerican affairs to the commonwealths (US Congress approved the Commonwealths and Americas Relations Act in 1924). There was an agreement that the USA and the South Alliance would have permanent representations. The delegates, except for the permanent members, are independent of their government upon their election to the Council and the tenure of office would be of 4 years. It was agreed that the permanent members could call on a suspension of the session or delay of the vote on the resolution by means of the call to consultation to their respective government on the issue that was on tabled or proposal of resolution. Also the permanent delegates could be designated and recalled at any moment. The Council will serve has good offices between parties in case of war or conflict. There was agreement to keep the autonomous organizations as part of the system, but an unanimous vote of the Conference would be needed to create new or dissolve the present ones. The delegations would enjoy free access and movement to the countries that host the meetings and official business of the Pan-American Union or its autonomous organizations. The official headquarters will moved to a new city, upon agreement of the Conference, meanwhile it will stay in Washington D.C.

A special Inter-American Conference (1924, Buenos Aires) formally approved the treaties and send the instruments of ratifications to member countries. This were quickly approved between 1924 and 1925.

Organization of the Pan-American Union

Pan American Union Bldg LOC Photograph

Pan American Building (Washington D.C.) - Headquarters Directorate General and Council

Its organization is the one laid out in Pan-American Conference of 1924, and subsequent reforms.

  • Pan-American Conference is the supreme decision organ and forum for Interamerican affairs. Each state member and commonwealth has one vote through its official delegation. The Conference meets bi-annually in any city of the Americas voted by the Conference or chosen by the Council. It elects the Council and Director General every 4 years. As the power to create, dissolve or restructure the autonomous organizations.
  • Council of the Pan-American Union. It is integrated by 7 representatives, elected by the Conference. It must be integrated at all times by a representative from the United Sates, and one from the South Alliance (the so called permanent members). The Council meets monthly to manage administrative affairs has laid out by the Conference, treaties and Conventions. Calls and prepares the table and preliminary work for the Conference.
  • Directorate General of the Pan-American Union, formed by a Secretariat and auxiliary organizations created by the Conference. Coordinates the actions of the autonomous organizations.
  • National Bureaus of the Pan-American Union, that serve has liaison between the governments and the Pan-American Union.
  • Interamerican Court of Justice. Integrated by the President of the Court and 8 Associated Justices. The Associated Justices are elected by the Pan-American Conference in a special session for that purpose, on plurality votes. Their mandate is for 8 years and a half of its members are elected every 4 years. The President is elected on a list of candidates proposed by the Council to the Conference, on which its members must vote on a candidate that has an absolute majority, if necessary consecutive run off elections are done. The President is given a full mandate of 8 years.
  • Autonomous organization that depend and report directly the Conference:
    • Pan-American Health Organization
    • Interamerican Copyrights Institute
    • Administration of the Pan-American Railroad
    • Pan-American Highway Board
    • Civil Aviation Federation of the Americas
    • Interamerican Postal and Telecommunications Union
    • Pan-American Organization for the Educational, Scientific and Cultural Advancement and Cooperation
    • Interamerican Trade Organization

The seat of the Directorate General and Council is in Washington DC and the Interamerican Court of Justice in Bogotá (Colombia).

Membership of the Pan-American Union

America 1925

Map of Americas (1925)

Full voting members of the Pan-American Union are:

  • Flag of Argentina Republic of Argentina
  • Flag of Bolivia Republic of Bolivia
  • Flag of Brazil (1889-1960) Republic of the United States of Brazil
  • Flag of Chile Republic of Chile
  • Flag of Colombia Republic of Colombia
  • Flag of Cuba Associated Free State of Cuba1
  • Flag of the Dominican Republic Dominican Commonwealth
  • Flag of Ecuador Republic of Ecuador
  • Flag of Haiti Commonwealth of Haiti
  • Flag of Mexico United Mexican States
  • Flag of Panama Republic of Panama
  • Flag of Paraguay 1842 Republic of Paraguay
  • Flag of Peru Republic of Peru
  • Flag of Puerto Rico Commonwealth of Puerto Rico
  • US flag 48 stars United States of America
  • Flag of Uruguay Oriental Republic of Uruguay
  • Flag of Venezuela 1930-2006 Republic of Venezuela
  • Flag of Honduras Republic of Honduras (1921-1921, 1948 to date)2
  • Flag of Nicaragua Republic of Nicaragua (1921-1921, 1948 to date)2
  • Flag of El Salvador Republic of El Salvador (1921-1921, 1948 to date)2
  • Flag of Guatemala Republic of Guatemala (1921-1921, 1948 to date)2
  • Flag of Costa Rica (state) Republic of Costa Rica (1921-1921, 1948 to date)2
  • Flag of the Federal Republic of Central America Federal Republic of Central America (from 1921 to 1948)

Associated member status has:

Notes:
1 Former Republic of Cuba up to 1929 when it becomes the Associated Free State of Cuba.
2 Former members until 1921, regained seats on the dissolution of the Federal Republic of Central America in 1948.

See also

The following organizations have members from the Pan-American Union:

Or territories in the Western Hemisphere:


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